Current Issue

STEM Education News

July 15, 2014

In This Issue:


OECD Survey Shows Teachers Enjoy Work, but Feel Unsupported

On June 26, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released its 2013 Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) results.  More than 100,000 lower secondary teachers and school leaders (working with students aged 11-16) in 34 countries took part in the OECD survey that aims to help countries develop a high-quality teaching profession by better understanding who teachers are and how they work.  According to the results, most teachers enjoy their jobs, despite feeling unsupported and unrecognized in schools and undervalued by society at large.

“We need to attract the best and brightest to join the profession. Teachers are the key in today’s knowledge economy, where a good education is an essential foundation for every child’s future success,” said Andreas Schleicher, OECD Director for Education and Skills.

The survey found that more than nine out of ten teachers are satisfied with their jobs and nearly eight in ten would choose the teaching profession again.  However, fewer than one in three teachers believe teaching is a valued profession in society.  Importantly, those countries where teachers feel valued tend to perform better on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)—an international assessment of student achievement that often shows students in the U.S. falling behind their international peers.

The survey shows that too many teachers still work independently with little to no team-teaching or constructive feedback.  It also found that teachers who engage in collaborative learning have higher job satisfaction and confidence in their abilities; further, participation in school decisions also boosts job satisfaction and makes teachers feel more valued in society. Another interesting finding was that job satisfaction rates are much more affected by classroom behavior than class size.

Particular to the U.S., the study suggests that public school teachers work harder—and  under more difficult conditions, than their international peers, without the same kind of supports, such as sufficient useful feedback and professional development.  Two-thirds of teachers in the U.S. feel that the profession is not valued by society.  Although U.S. participation rates fell just below the minimum for full inclusion in the comparative report, OECD prepared a U.S. specific report. The U.S. data suggests that nearly two-thirds of U.S. middle-school teachers work in schools where more than 30 percent of students are economically disadvantaged—which is the highest rate in the world, and more than triple the average TALIS rate.  More effective preparation and professional development have been cited as practices that could improve these results, but poverty rates also contribute to the overall state of affairs in schools and the increased and complicated challenges that teachers face.  Read more information on the survey and its results here.


Afterschool Alliance Examines Impacts of STEM Programs

Last week, the Afterschool Alliance released its latest paper commissioned by the Noyce Foundation, “Examining the impact of afterschool STEM programs.” With afterschool programs becoming widely recognized as key partners in K-12 STEM education, evaluation data that demonstrates measurable impacts of such efforts is an increasingly vital necessity. While afterschool practitioners are well aware of the impacts afterschool STEM programs have on students, policy makers and other stakeholders often require additional data that supports outcomes, such as increased student interest in science and greater knowledge of STEM careers. The paper discusses recent research around the importance of afterschool and out-of-school-time STEM learning experiences. The Afterschool Alliance also included a discussion on the impacts that several strong afterschool STEM programs are having on participating students. Read more at the Afterschool Alliance’s blog or download the paper.


ED Initiative to Provide Students Equal Access to Excellent Educators

By Ryan Jones, Triangle Coalition Intern

The U.S. Department of Education recently launched the “Excellent Education for All” initiative to provide all students access to a quality education. The reason for this is primarily due to the fact that in many high poverty, high minority schools, students are not always provided with effective educators. In fact, research indicates that the race and family income of a student will often predict their access to well-trained, successful educators. In many cases, it is those that are impoverished and minorities that need access to a great education the most.

The Department of Education plans to approach this issue by incorporating more promising practices for developing and supporting great educators through a three part plan. First, they want to create new comprehensive educator equity plans that have solutions in place to ensure that every student has access to effective educators. Second, an educator equity support network will be created to ensure that educators are trained and supported properly. The third and last part of this plan is to create educator equity profiles in order to highlight the schools and districts that are failing, as well as the ones that are prospering, in the effort to provide effective educators. By creating this plan and enacting this initiative, the Department plans to improve our education system particularly for the impoverished and minority students who need it most.

If you would like to know more about this initiative, take a look at the following articles:


Legislative Update
House Moves First Three HEA Reauthorization Bills

On Thursday, the House Education and the Workforce Committee approved three bills that would revise parts of the Higher Education Act.  The bills passed with bipartisan support after an apparently collegial process took place in writing them.  The three bills were not really controversial, with the thornier issues involved in the effort to revise the larger Act, such as the Title IV student aid programs, left for later.  Staff reports that they will delay any proposals related to the Act’s teacher preparation programs until after the August recess, at the earliest. Full article


Legislative Update
Bipartisan Workforce Legislation Moves to President’s Desk

On Wednesday, the House passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) by a bipartisan vote of 415 to 6.  The measures reauthorizes the Workforce Investment Act—one of many pieces of education legislation long overdue for revising. The Senate approved the same legislation in June by a vote of 95-3.

WIOA is split into five titles that focus on four main topics: workforce development, adult education and literacy, national programs and employment for individuals with disabilities. Full article


Member Spotlight
STEM Competitions Provide Focus for National Technology Student Association Conference in Washington, D.C. Area

Middle and high school students participate in more than 60 STEM competitions during conference.

Reston, VA (PRWEB) July 09, 2014 – As education communities nationwide continue to sharpen their focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education initiatives, middle and high school students proved their skill in STEM competitions at the 2014 national Technology Student Association (TSA) conference.

More than 6,800 students and educators from across the nation gathered near the nation’s capital to attend the conference. It took place at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland, from June 27 through July 1.

Middle and high school student members took part in more than 60 competitive events based on principles and concepts learned through projects during the school year in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects. Full article